Friday, February 25, 2011

A letter to Winter...

Dear Winter,

It is with sorrow and deep regret that I write this letter. You see, over the 28 years we have worked together on a seasonal basis, we have created many fond memories. From sledding and snow forts to college snow days, good times were bountiful. Somewhere along the line, though, you changed.

I tried to brush off the wrist-fracturing slip you threw my way a few years back. I turned a blind eye to the 2009 Icepocalypse that left so many in the area without power. After all, who needs electricity when you have frozen water? (See? That argument still doesn’t make sense.) I figured you might just be going through some sort of phase where you clamored for attention; like you were trying to be a Jonas brother or Kardashian sister. Alas, this winter has proven that your issues go far beyond a “look at me” complex… Now you simply won’t go away. What was the breaking point? Perhaps it was the consecutive snowstorms. Perhaps it was the 40-degree dip over a span of 12 hours. Or perhaps it was the fact that you brought traffic to such a standstill on Thursday night that it took me 45 minutes to travel from my home to another location less than four miles away. The year is not 1850, I know not how to mend a broken wagon axle, and none of my family members are suffering from dysentery. Put simply, this is not the Oregon Trail, Winter. Such travel escapades are simply inexcusable. I have no choice but to ask for your resignation as an annual season.

It’s true, not all of your traits are the sort that might trigger Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining” to transition into a psychotic, Ed McMahon-quoting delirium. After all, snow spread over an open field and dusted over trees can create a landscape that many find “majestic” or “beautiful.” You can even help bring forth the inner kindness of individuals, leading neighbors to assist in shoveling driveways and even encouraging strangers to help push cars up an icy hill.

Unfortunately, with the good, there’s both bad and ugly. It seems far too many in the Midwest approach driving in snow as if it’s some sort of master’s-level equation, and they aren’t anywhere near solving it. Wheels spinning in place? I bet stomping on my gas pedal as if it’s a spider scurrying across a tile floor will do the trick. Uh oh, I’m losing traction as I careen down the road… I better slam on my brakes as if I’m headed toward the Grand Canyon. Basically, the roads turn into a circus… A circus where the clowns driving tiny cars operate as if inebriated and nearsighted, and snow cones are mud-flavored and fed to folks by a batting cage pitching machine.

I’d like to give you another chance, Winter. I really would. Unfortunately, you have proven yourself untrustworthy. How can I be expected to continually support a season whose quadrennial Olympics are slightly less entertaining than flossing one’s teeth?

Enough is enough, Winter. It’s time for a change. Resign now and we will negotiate a deal that will allow you to return for 24 hours each Christmas that falls in an even-numbered year. Decline this request resignation and you will risk legal action. The choice is yours.


Derek Larson

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend wisdom

I'm passing this along because - oddly - most of The Writings known readership (a group of insomniacs seeking sleep aides) do not show the author's enthusiasm for the NBA. Arguments that folks have against the NBA seem countless, ranging from "they're all overpaid" to "they don't work hard until the playoffs." The pay issue is one I can't argue with, but I think the lackadaisical play issue is just something folks like to say without actually watching games to support the argument. Whatever the case, I'm nearing an off-topic rant, and that's not one expects from The Writings. (Nope, you expect tales of my awkward personal interactions... There's always next time.)

Back to wisdom, this weekend's glowing example came during the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night. After an assortment of slams mixed in with awkward fanfare and the most ear-crippling announcing duo possible (Reggie and Cheryl Miller... Horrible... I'd rather listen to Carrot Top and Gallagher talk prop "comedy"), the night wrapped with LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin dunking over a car.

It was an impressive feat. (I haven't jumped over a car in years.) It was a nice dunk... but it wasn't an AMAZING dunk; not one worthy of the instant reaction that it received from most everyone in attendance. It wasn't the best dunk of the night, and thankfully Charles Barkley was there to put things in proper perspective. How does one effectively convey the message that presentation was nice but, overall, there wasn't much substance to something in particular?

Mr. Barkley?

"That's like when you have a pretty girl, if she's dumb, it don't matter."

I can't top that. Use your newfound wisdom wisely.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Roses are...

It's Valentine's Day. This means that florists will stay in business for another year. It means that fancy restaurants everywhere will have folks spilling out the doors. It means that several husbands around the country will sleep on their couches tonight, having forgotten about the entire holiday. It also means that vernaculars, written communicae, and the Internet are infested with sappy "Roses are red..." poems. This is an infection that must be cured. We at The Writings have decided that the only way to put an end to the thought that such poems might be in any way romantic is to compile the worst examples of said poems. Here's a start. Please feel free to pitch in if you can.

Roses are red; violets are blue;
I'd put your name here, but I haven't a clue.

Roses are red, but roses have thorns;
I'll see you tonight, you can help treat my corns.

Roses are red; a rose is a flower;
On such a special occasion, I might even shower.

Roses are red; ... well, some roses anyway. Roses can also be white, yellow, pink, or even striped. There are actually over 100 species within the family Rosaceae. They're all perennials and many are native to Asia. Roses are most often used for ornamental purposes and they have been used in that manner for thousands of years. I'm a big fan of roses. In fact, I can tell you a lot more about them if you like. I'm going to assumed that your stunned silence means, "yes, I would like to hear more." Did you know that roses are even used medicinally. No really, it's true...

Roses are red; this is no fling;
Put on something pretty, it's time for Burger King.

Roses are red; my online avatar has tremendous stats;
Have you seen my collection of porcelain cats?

Roses are red; my formal title is mister;
Sweetheart, you're great, but can I call your sister?

Yes, the fact that it is Valentine's Day also means that tonight is the Sunflower Showdown at Bramlage Coliseum. I'll be headed that way soon. Frankly, I won't allow myself to write anything else about the game, as I seem to have an adverse effect on most things I appreciate. That's a topic for the future.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cards of the Day - Feb. 12, 2011

Dick Vitale's voice can make a person alter their plans. Sure, I've detailed inane comments from a number of broadcasters over the life of The Writings, but Vitale is like a different species (Dickius Vitalus). Honestly, I care not if someone is a "PTP'er" or a "diaper dandy." In fact, if one really ponders the catch phrases, they mind end up assuming that Vitale spends his spare time getting wildly excited for recently potty-trained children. For me, today it's all too much. The game - Ohio St.-Wisconsin - is one I'm mildly interested in, but certainly not one where I feel like I need to catch all the enthralling commentary that accompanies it. Instead, it's time to examine a bit of childhood nostalgia. After all, it's been far too long since I wrote about trading cards.

Dale Carter - 1993 Pro Set Power

Carter is one of the best defensive backs in Chiefs history, and I'm nothing if I'm not biased when it comes to my favorite teams. These factors, plus the fact that the folks at Pro Set were apparently ancestors of Samuel F. B. Morse. The description on the back of Carter's card reads, "In 1992, Carter telegrammed his game-breaking ability to the league the first time he touched the ball..." It was 1992; what was he doing using a telegraph? Was he stuck in history museum. I don't ask for much (editor's note: lie), but couldn't the Pro Set folks have referred to faxing instead of sending a telegram? Or, embracing the technology of the era, maybe they could have even written, "In 1992, Carter phoned the beepers of teams around the league. Upon checking their pager messages, locating a pay phone, and borrowing a quarter from the nearest guy wearing a fanny pack, teams were informed of Carter's game-breaking ability..."

I think it sounds good.

Don Mattingly - 1994 Bowman

On the back, a scout talks of why Mattingly - who won the 1985 MVP over George Brett despite the fact that the Royals went on to the World Series and that Brett had a higher batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage (bitter? Me?) - was not drafted until the 19th round in 1979. "He didn't show the tools that were in vogue then," the scout says.

I assume that means that he hadn't grown his mustache yet.

Jon Nunnally - 1996 Metal Universe

There's no descriptive paragraph on the back of this card, and that's probably for the best. The illustration on the front seems to get the point across. Nunnally - a former Royals outfield who hit a home run in his first major league at-bat - is shown apparently navigating a minefield in effort to catch a falling mine in the webbing of his mitt. It's true, the Royals were lousy in the mid-90s (and the late 90s... and nearly the entire 21st century to this point), but depicting their once-promising young outfielder (he was eventually traded to Cincinnati and may have fallen into a bottomless pit) in the midst of a war-torn minefield seems a bit harsh. After all, they didn't even have Neifi Perez or Chuck Knoblauch by that point.

Unfortunately, it seems that no picture of this card exists in the entirety of the Internet and my scanner is on the fritz. (Who knew that a printer/scanner might quit working if one goes without using it for four years?)

Mike Remlinger - 1992 Donruss

Poor Mr. Remlinger, not only is he stuck wearing a throwback uniform that makes him look like a member of a 1919 prison team, but the folks at Donruss mention missing most of the 1988 season due to an elbow injury as a "career highlight." Donruss: Enjoying the career-threatening misery of others since 1992.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Asking my source

If you keep up with K-State sports at all, you know that this week has been a whirlwind of rumors, allegations, innuendo, and other intriguing terms in relation to the status of senior forward Curtis Kelly. Kelly - who sat out the first three games of the season because coach Frank Martin apparently did not like the way Kelly was approaching practice, and then sat six-games in the heart of the season because he is apparently obsessive when it comes to bargain shopping - has been practicing all week and will play tomorrow, per Martin's comments yesterday. I'd comment more one the subject, but my "source" tells me that my reaction to comments like these (advance to 2:10 mark) from Martin would result in me curling up in the fetal position as if I was being attacked by a grizzly.

Monday, February 07, 2011


I encountered someone with “The Mondays” today, and the result was not one many might desire. Those unfamiliar should know that having The Mondays basically involves experiencing the frustrations in life that might only seem to occur on Mondays – the oft-dreaded start to a work week. The origins of the phrase are unknown (as far as I’m concerned… The Writings: Who Says Writing Involves Research?), but said phrase was made popular in the film “Office Space,” in which an ultimate result is a scheme gone wrong followed by workplace arson. It’s true, The Mondays are not anything to take lightly.

As far as I’m aware, if you have ever said any of the following, you may have suffered from a case of The Mondays:

- “I lost my keys.”

- “I locked my keys in my car.”

- “I locked my car in my house.”

- “I lost my house.”

- “I overslept.”

- “I underslept.”

- “I slept in my neighbor’s boat.”

- “I slept under my neighbor’s boat.”

- “My girlfriend discovered that my sales job at Vandelay Industries is a farce.”

- “My coworkers discovered that my girlfriend is a farce.”

- “I discovered that my life is a farce.”

- “My credit card was declined at lunch.”

- “My credit card was declined at lunch with a client.”

- “My presence was declined at lunch with a client, though he did ask for my credit card to stay.”

- “My dog ran away.”

- “My cat ran away.”

- “My goldfish ran away, despite the fact that it cannot run.”

- “Someone keyed my car.”

- “Someone vandalized my home.”

- “17 yokels that were raised by shrews robbed my home, hijacked my car, and left me with nothing but a 1989 Don Aase baseball card and a pair of non-matching socks.”

- “I lost one of my non-matching socks.”

Whether or not the girl I encountered today had previously uttered any of the above remains a mystery, as I don’t make it a habit of asking strangers for printed transcripts of their daily conversations and inner monologues upon meeting them. No, the first clue of this case of the Mondays unfortunately came at my expense.

(Insert appropriate appalled gasp here.)

While the drive-thru attendee at my favorite local fast-food establishment passed my order through the comically small window, she managed to fumble my cup and spill a portion of my carbonated beverage. The splash zone was unfortunate, somehow extending from my driver’s side window all the way to the passenger seat. Had it not been for the fact that my pants resided in said splash zone, I might have marveled at the way the soda seemed to defy physics. Instead, I put napkins into immediate action, attempting to sop the pop before my car seats were stained and my cup-holder was left in a sticky state that would make future passengers wonder why I had apparently attempted to manufacture taffy in my motor vehicle.

Alas, it was not the fact that the drive-thru gatekeeper also gave me stale French fries, or the fact that she forgot to provide some ketchup packets (despite specifically asking me if I might desire extra ketchup – a query to which I responded, “Yes, that would be great.” … Apparently, she was just taking a survey...) that cemented my diagnosis of this case of The Mondays. No, said realization came directly after the employee chose to baptize my dungarees with Pepsi. Rather than apologize profusely (or even minimally), she instead followed with “I think that cup spilled a little.”

Apparently she was curious whether the Mondays were contagious.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


In the denouement* of my last Writing, I mentioned that more thoughts on the ice and snow would be on the way. I’m a man of my word, however there seems to be a more pressing weather-related issue. It’s true that snow is everywhere, leaving every yard, sidewalk, and street looking as if they’ve been encompassed by the fallout from a Hostess powdered donut factory. And, sure, the snowy roads do give me ample opportunity to put into practice everything that I’ve learned from The History Channel’s “Ice Road Truckers.” (Rule No. 1: Avoid ice roads and the truckers that occupy them.) The snow is rough, but the cold is far worse.

*Let usage of “denouement” serve as proof that I passed my freshman English course many years ago... Surprising, I know.

The cold we’re getting (-4 with the wind chill at noon today) is the kind that makes penguins feel smart for not migrating. It’s the kind that leaves the dials in your car frozen and difficult to turn, while your engine makes a sound more like someone asking “Are you serious? You expect me to move?” than the force behind a matriculating motor vehicle. It’s the kind of cold that makes a person long to see the big people wearing far too little that always accompany summer. Lousy weather.

The best way to combat said cold? Stay indoors or move to warmer climate. Unfortunately, those options are not always realistic. (Oddly, many jobs require the employee to show up in order to provide them with a paycheck.) Knowing that the outdoors are unavoidable – since I’ve yet to construct a series of heated, underground tunnels that lead to my workplace as well as other hotspots around town – I’ve resorted to layering clothing. From doubling up on socks to wearing three different shirts, I’ve basically become a walking closet. The result? A warmer Derek, though one with ever more laundry to wash.

On the drive to work this morning, I did notice one person that took a different route to keeping warm. Clad in jeans and a sweatshirt with no coat, jacket, parka, hoodie, vest, or life preserver to speak of, this guy* had apparently decided to simply pretend that it was not cold. Was it working? My observation was inconclusive, though he did seem to look jealously at my heated car as he crossed the crosswalk… Then again, maybe that expression was just the result of him not being able to feel his face.

*This youngster looked to be headed to class and he was wearing a K-State football sweatshirt. If he was indeed a KSU football player, I look forward to seeing him on the field next season… That is, if he recovers from the hypothermia and frostbite.

Luckily, there seems to be hope of waking from this frigid nightmare. After all, Punxatawney Phil – the rodent who apparently has a greater brain capacity than all meteorologists combined – reportedly did not see his shadow this morning. Using the sort of elementary logic that comes with many traditions (bunnies for Easter? OF COURSE!), this means that Spring will soon arrive. For the sake of my Midwestern existence, I hope that groundhog is right. Sure, he may not have seen his shadow because he’s ridden with hypothermia or maybe he’s been blind ever since an unfortunate bar fight after the 76ers won their 1982 NBA title. Honestly, the fur ball could be lying about the whole thing just because he does not want to suffer the wrath of some crazed Spring enthusiast. Whatever the case, I think that the 2010-2011 Winter has served its purpose.

That purpose? Forcing the author to walk with the speed of a geriatric tortoise in order to avoid slipping on any ice. Lousy winter.